journalism … ‘mutualised’

In Uncategorized on November 25, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Finally had time today to read Guardian Editor in Chief Alan Rusbridger’s excellent piece from a few days ago, “The splintering of the fourth estate,” in which he discusses in depth the ways collaborative — or “mutualised” — journalism will continue to evolve and flourish. If you’re at all involved in journalism, this is a must-read. Actually, if you just care even the slightest about how news and information is distributed globally, it’s a must-read. Just read it. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

[On a related note: Rusbridger writes at length about the power of Twitter, and I first saw a link to his post in a tweet by Dan Gillmor, who certainly wasn’t the only one to tweet or retweet the piece. Just think about that for a second.]

Not since the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press have so many had such a great opportunity to say so much. This isn’t news, at least not to anyone who follows what goes on in the Vast Everchanging Mediascape, but that doesn’t make it any less important.

In an essay loaded with salient points, perhaps the loudest of Rusbridger’s was about how we all must pay more careful attention to who ends up owning what’s left of the large media companies:

Indeed, it is a sign of the current turmoil that one should have to argue a case that, at any other time in history, would have seemed too obvious to make. Too great a concentration of ownership in the media has always been considered a bad idea, whether you were on the right or the left.

But the revolution we’re talking about is changing all that. It seems self-evident to some that a combination of fierce economic pressures and an ever greater convergence of text, data and moving pictures leads to one obvious solution: consolidation. Consolidation also brings economies of scale. If regulatory regimes can’t handle that, well, get rid of the regulators, goes the argument.

The economic and technological arguments are serious ones, but if they prevail we will – soon – see more and more power and influence concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.

Frankly, that scares the hell out of me. But what gives me hope is that combating the oversized, one-viewpoint-fits-all media behemoths will be nimble, creative new organizations that grower stronger and more popular because they’re able to harness the viewpoints and ideas of thousands, if not millions.

Many journalists are just now beginning to realize this. Hopefully, so, too, will the masses. Because going forward, while roles and responsibilities will change — and keep changing — most of us will be on the same team. So let’s share playbooks. Let’s keep figuring this out together.

And let’s tweet about it.


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